Christopher Crawford

Prospect Roundup

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Top 10 Prospects: July 2

Monday, July 2, 2018


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A reminder that this is strictly a list for 2018. Several of these prospects are among the best in baseball, but for the purpose of this series, it’s just measuring potential impact for the coming season. You can view my top 100 prospects for 2018 and my top prospects by position in our Rotoworld MLB Season Pass.

 

Without further ado, here’s the top 10 fantasy prospects for the 2018 season.

 

1. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

2018 stats: 69 G, .311/.377/.521, 13 HR, 14 SB, 35 BB, 68 SO at Triple-A Fresno.

 

Tucker continues to show the stroke that allows him to hit for average and power with the Fresno Grizzlies, and hit three more homers this week while keeping the average at the same level. He also stole his 14th base, and if he doesn't get called up to Houston soon, he has a real chance to be a 25-25 player in the PCL in 2018. With all due respect to Tucker, we hope we don't see that, because we want his bat in the MLB. A promotion for Tucker should come by the end of July -- if not sooner -- and if you haven't stashed him yet, it's not a bad idea to do so now.

 

2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 65 G, .313/.371/.541, 12 HR, 0 SB, 23 BB, 44 SO at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

 

Even when the hits don't fall for Jimenez, he's showing the ability to impact the game with his improved approach. In 12 games with Charlotte, he's walked five times. It's a small sample, but that's a big improvement to the 18 walks he drew in 53 games at Double-A before his promotion. The calling-card is always going to be the power, but Jimenez continues to develop into a well-rounded hitting prospect. Like Tucker, he should be up relatively soon, and stashing the 21-year-old soon -- if you haven't already -- is highly recommended. 


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3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

2018 stats: 53 G, .408/.457/.667, 11 HR, 3 SB, 20 BB, 21 SO at Double-A New Hampshire. 

 

We're getting closer to Guerrero's evaluation day, which means we're getting closer to finding out if we're going to see the top prospect in baseball play again in 2018. There's plenty of time for Guerrero to make an impact if he gets the thumbs up to return, but let's remember that this is a 19-year-old, and Toronto has every reason to take precaution with him. If we see him back on the field, he'll jump back to the top of the list, but the likelihood of promotions for Jimenez and Tucker -- and the possibility that Vlad is shut down for more time after the evaluation -- keeps him here. 

 

4. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians

2018 stats: 68 G, .291/.340/.453, 6 HR, 0 SB, 17 BB, 54 SO at Triple-A Columbus. 

 

Saying that Mejia is swinging the bat well right now is the understatement of this article, and all of the previous articles before it. His average jumped more than 35 points from the previous edition thanks in large part to a streak of eight straight games where he had multiple hits, including a four-hit game on Friday. It was only a matter of time until the switch-hitting backstop broke out, but this is beyond that. A .488 average over 10 games will do a lot to help your status, and Mejia should get another chance to help Cleveland soon.

 

5. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

2018 stats: 79 G, .284/.326/.406, 6 HR, 2 SB, 18 BB, 38 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.

 

Calhoun is hitting for average at an impressive rate, and he even was able to steal his first two bases of the year. He's still not hitting for much power as you can see from the numbers above, but a .341/.368/.505 line over his last 28 days will certainly play. Expect the power numbers to go up as the season progresses. The question now is whether those power numbers come in Round Rock or Texas, but it should be the latter in the coming weeks.

 

6. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros

2018 stats: 5 G, 4.43 ERA, 20 IP, 2 HR, 7 BB, 29 SO at Double-A Corpus Christi.

 

Whitley has had a bit of a rough go of it in his last few outings, and he's allowed 10 runs in his last two starts over just 8 1/3 innings at the Double-A level. We don't panic over a couple of poor starts, and let's keep in mind that Whitley is still shaking off some rust as he missed 50 games with a suspension. He still has the best swing-and-miss stuff in the game, and whether he's pitching out of the rotation or hurling in relief, his ability to miss bats makes him the best fantasy pitching prospect in baseball right now -- in my humble estimation, anyway.

 

7. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 16 G, 79 1/3 IP, 4.42 ERA, 5 HR, 52 BB, 105 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.

 

Kopech had a pair of strong starts this week, giving up just one run over 12 innings, and he fanned 17 hitters in that time frame. He also walked six hitters, and he's put 39 runners on base via walk over his last 49 1/3 innings. We've said it several times but it's worth repeating: Kopech's stuff is special, his command is not. The White Sox should give him a chance to finish their season with the club, but they're not going to call him up until the command is better. Significantly.

 

8. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

2018 stats: 14 G, 3.45 ERA, 88.2 IP, 8 HR, 34 BB, 79 SO at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.

 

There was some very good -- and very bad -- for Keller last week. Let's start with the good; he had arguably his best start of the year with eight scoreless innings, and he earned a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis. Unfortunately, let's just say that his first start with Indianapolis didn't go very well. And by didn't go very well, we mean he gave up a whopping 10 hits and two walks in just 2 2/3 innings, and his ERA after the start sat at a less-than-spectacular 27.00 in the International League. It's just one start, however, and the good outweighs the bad here. With the Pirates out of contention, Keller should finish the year with Pittsburgh, and he has the stuff to be successful.


9. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres

2018 stats: 77 G, .285/.359/.511, 14 HR, 13 SB, 32 BB, 97 SO at Double-A San Antonio.


Welcome to the list, Mr. Tatis. We've been expecting you. You see those impressive numbers above? Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider Tatis was dreadful to begin the year. Since May 1 he's hit .333/.414/.592 with 11 homers and 13 steals in those 53 games. The ball jumps off of the switch-hitters bat, and while he does strike out, his ability to draw walks and hit for power along with his base-stealing prowess more than makes up for it. Tatis is ready for a promotion to Triple-A, and the last-place Padres should give the young shortstop a chance to get some big-league seasoning before the season ends.

 

10. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2018 stats: 54 G, .336/.381/.491, 6 HR, 4 SB, 16 BB, 30 SO at Triple-A Oklahoma City; 9 G, .265/.306/.352, 0 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 6 SO at Los Angeles

 

Verdugo didn't have an excellent week, but considering how hot he was with the bat before.  Even with a pedestrian seven games to finish he still hit .347/.398/.526 in June with a pair of homers and three stolen bases. I'll readily admit that Verdugo is a bit of a tough sale for 2018 value because of the situation. Just keep in mind that he has one of the most advanced hit tools in the minors, and if -- and unfortunately, it is if -- he gets the call, he's a must add. There's just no guarantee at all that we see him with the Dodgers in 2018 again. 

 

Just missed: Luis Urias, 2B/SS, San Diego Padres; Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers; Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta Braves; Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves



Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.
Email :Christopher Crawford



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